Beware of new date-rape drug

Courtesy of WPI News Service

Distribution and use of a powerful drug that can cause memory loss is increasing in the United States. Known as the date-rape drug, flunitrazepam, sold under the brand name Rohypnol (ro-hip'-nol, sometimes mispronounced rufinol), is tasteless, odorless and colorless and quickly dissolves in liquids. "Roofies," which are 10 times more potent than valium, cause amnesia that typically lasts for eight to 24 hours, depending on dosage. The drug takes effect within 30 minutes; the full impact usually hits in about an hour. The pills are cheap (under $5) and impossible to trace in the human body.

According to information from the Women's Network at Indiana University, this new "designer drug" is dropped into the drinks of unsuspecting women and allows the woman to be raped without any problems because she is unable to fight the rapist.

Rohypnol is manufactured throughout the world, particularly in Europe and Latin America, where it is legally prescribed for short-term treatment of insomnia and as a sedative and preanesthetic. It has not been approved for distribution in the United States; supplies are most often smuggled into this country from Mexico or Colombia.

There is some evidence that Rohypnol use is increasing in clubs and on campuses throughout the country. "Members of the WPI community, particularly women, should be aware of the presence and the potential dangers of this potent, illegal drug," says Mary Cox, director of WPI's healthy alternatives program. "It is unfortunate but true that you have to be very careful in places where alcohol is present. Don't leave your drink unattended, don't accept drinks from strangers and, if you feel uncomfortable in a situation, get out, preferably with a friend. If you have any indication that you have been victimized by the use of Rohypnol, call Campus Police (ext. 5433), Health Services (ext. 5520), the Healthy Alternatives Office (ext. 5800), the Student Life Office (ext. 5201) or Student Development and Counseling (ext. 5540)."

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